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By VALERIE STEWART, VP Strategy and Development, Scovan

There are few opportunities in life that make you feel as though you are making a real contribution to your community. Hosting International Women’s Day is one of those moments. Scovan was proud to host our 4th annual IWD on March 8 with our peers, sponsors and team members. 

The purpose of IWD is to amplify social connectedness, celebrate trailblazers and visionaries, and create opportunity for the future of girls and women. While we feature our keynote speakers, IWD is also about the everyday heroes in our world. There are so many amazing female leaders among us, quietly pushing boundaries, inspiring others, challenging the status quo. We want to create a community that recognizes women for the personal and professional triumphs they make in their every day lives. 

When I was preparing for IWD, my eight-year-old daughter asked me what I was working on. I told her I was preparing for our International Women’s Day Forum. Then I asked her, “why do you think it’s important to celebrate IWD”. 

She thought about it and said, “In the olden days, boys had all the good jobs because people thought they were smarter than girls.”

I was struck by two things: 

1. Her confidence and belief that this was a thing of the past, and 

2. That her future would be different. 

She’s partially right, but at the same time, we’re not quite all the way there yet. 

How do I explain to my vibrant, confident and fierce little girl, that by the age of 10, she will stop putting her hand up in class because girls don’t want to be seen as a “know it all”. The societal norms for young girls are powerful, and it is deeply rooted in something bigger than us. Those belief systems are, and should be a thing of the past. And it’s up to everyone of us to change that. Every time we push outside of our comfort zone, call out biases and speak our voice, we get a little bit better as a society. 

This is why representation is so critical. We need to show our girls that they too can lead, that they can influence, that they can sit at the table.

Our youth need to see, to believe and to become it. Sheryl Sandberg is one of those leaders who has made a tremendous impact on society. During her 10 years as COO for Facebook, she became one of the most successful and wealthiest women in the business world. But, she did more than that. At Stanford, Berkley and other universities in California, something very interesting started to happen. Young women started applying for business school in greater numbers, and their source of inspiration in their application letters was attributed to Sheryl. They saw themselves in her. They believed that they too could be a leader in a start up company in Silicon Valley. And they made a conscious decision to lean into a career choice that they may not have otherwise chosen. 

Belief becomes your reality. 

Let’s make more leaders for our daughters, sisters and granddaughters. 

The theme for this year’s IWD was Break the Bias. What does it really mean to break the bias? Does it mean that we need to break stereotypes? Does it take grit, determination and hard work? Do we need to be aware of unconscious biases? 

It’s a combination of all those things. But when I truly thought about it, I wanted to know, what is the one common element that binds this all together? 

I believe it is this: Courage. It means that we need to be courageous. 

This includes the courage to lead, courage to try something new, courage to speak up, courage to be financially independent. 

Many women have been breaking the bias all their lives without event realizing it. They may have been the only girl on their sports team, or been one of the 20% of the females graduates in their engineering class, they may be the only female working on site, or the only female in the boardroom. What ever it is, they have been courageous, and have gotten used to the scenery along the way. 

We were very fortunate to have our keynote speakers at IWD 2022. Thank you to Mary Moran, Shelley Kuipers and Kirsten Marcia for sharing their stories with us. They shared with our audience how they have been courageous throughout their lives, through their challenges and triumphs, and shared some of their lessons learned and some valuable key take aways. 

If you missed it, you can watch this exciting event on You Tube.

Thank you to our speakers and all our sponsors for your time and generosity. This year Scovan was proud to support the non-profit organization, Blackfoot Tech Council. 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 4